Steinmetz: Warriors face questions entering training camp

As the Warriors get ready for the start of training camp this weekend at their practice facility in downtown Oakland, they face several important questions heading into the 2008-09 season.

Here are the five most important ones:

1. What’s the deal with Monta Ellis?
No, we’re not talking about how he injured his left ankle.

At this point, who cares? What’s far more important is his playing status.

Nobody really seems to know whether Ellis will return in December or January (best-case scenario), will be out longer than that (most likely) or whether he’ll even be able to return the same player he was.

The Warriors lost Baron Davis to the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this offseason. It would be devastating if they lost the old Monta Ellis, too.

2. How is Stephen Jackson’s frame of mind?
Without Davis, Jackson is the unquestioned leader of the Warriors. He’s their best perimeter defender, has hit the most big shots and in many ways is the team’s best player. But he’s not paid like the team’s best player and the issue is whether or not that will become … well, an issue.

Warriors fans have seen the “good” Jackson for the past year and a half. Will it continue?

3. What’s going to happen with Anthony Randolph?
There is optimism regarding Randolph, and rightfully so. He’s got size, is skilled and seems to have that little something extra that most other players don’t have. But he is a rookie and that means … well, who knows?

Will Randolph emerge as a rookie coach Don Nelson can trust? Over the course of Nelson’s three decades in coaching, he has earned a reputation as being tough on first-year players. Nelson rebuts that by saying players such as Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway, Sidney Moncrief, etc., played for him in Year 1.

Maybe so. But the list of rookies who didn’t get off the bench for Nelson is significantly longer than the list of rookies who did.

4. What’s up with Nelson and Chris Mullin?
Both Nelson and Mullin, the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations, are entering the final year of their contracts. Extensions don’t seem to be forthcoming.

So, if neither Nelson nor Mullin is getting a contract extension, how will that uncertainty play into the season?

And who is going to be taking the Warriors beyond 2008-09?

5. Is there more to Corey Maggette than meets the eye?

The Warriors paid $50 million over five years to sign Maggette as a free agent.

He’s got a reputation as a scorer. But for $10 million a season, Maggette needs to bring more to the table. Will he defend? Can he defend? Does he rebound or pass?

Twenty points alone doesn’t go a long way in the Warriors’ up-tempo system.

The issue is whether Maggette can do anything besides score.

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. E-mail him at msteinmetz@sfexaminer.com.

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